Friday in DC: Last day in the archives

images-1I’ve spent the week pouring over pedestrian details looking for a better picture of early 20th century water policy in the U.S.

I’ve had some nice finds: correspondence with Alexander Graham Bell and an admittance that either the ideas of early policy makers would prove the next great thing since Francis Bacon or be a colossal flop.

A fair bit of Wednesday night, yesterday and  today enabled me to be in the Library of Congress Reading room, which looks like the image to the left with a large domed ceiling. As an aside, since this library didn’t make the top ten list, those that did must really be something.  The archivists here (more accurately, in the Madison manuscript room) and at the National Anthropological Archives, have been truly outstanding.


Not everything that I was hoping to find did I come across. Some boxes were and remain missing. Some letters are only partly readable, or have sections too faded to read. I had hoped a few other figures might make an appearance in the correspondence but so far these show no signs of materializing.

Between what I’ve found and what I was looking for is where the better picture of things emerges. Since my main focus has been on William John McGee it has been nice that he so frequently told a narrative about what he perceived himself to be up to. The perks of being the secretary for many meetings and being in charge or on the ground floor of several organizations.

Several more boxes to peer into today before heading out.

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